This weekend saw the passing of New York Times Columnist, William Safire. Safire began his career in the 1950s as a young Republican on the Hill and ended up in the 1970s as one of Richard Nixon’s top speechwriters. During the Nixon years, he famously set up the Nixon/Kruschev “Kitchen Debate” and created the term “nattering nabobs of negativism” (once used in a column on this very site). After Watergate, he began a journalism career and spent most of his life as the conservative voice on the New York Times editorial page. In today’s world of egotistical marginal intellects posing as television political personalities, Safire was an actual intellectual who thought about issues and their consequences, not just political points. His belief on issues was not always conventional, as he voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and was a chief critic of George W. Bush towards the end of his career. However he usually provided a consistent conservative intellectual libertarian voice…an almost lost art in today’s Glenn Beck political world. He also was fascinated by words and beginning in 1980 produced “On Language”, a regular feature for nerdy people (like me) interested in the origin and usage of words. Safire won the Pulitzer Prize, the Congressional Medal of Freedom and nearly every other journalism award imaginable. He famously called Hillary Clinton a “congenital liar,” which received little response from Hillary herself. However Bill Clinton’s aide was quoted as saying, ““if he were not the president, would have delivered a more forceful response on the bridge of Mr. Safire’s nose.” According to his New York Times obituary, Safire is reported to have been impressed by the response, especially the proper use of the conditional. He was 79.
To the news…
(1): The biggest news of the night comes from the visit by 2010 recruit Adrian Payne to Kentucky this weekend. I spoke tonight with Art Winston, Payne’s high school coach who accompanied him for his trip. Winston called the trip a “very good one” in which “Kentucky showed us a whole lot.” He said that Payne was most impressed with the fact that he got to watch UK have a team workout. “He was impressed, as was I, with how energetic everybody was. They have guys running around and looking like they are having a lot of fun. You can tell the guys really like that system.” Winston said they had a long conversation with the coaches and that Payne thinks he can fit in with what UK does. John Wall and Demarcus Cousins were the visit “hosts”, which showcases just how much trust Calipari puts in those two young men early on. Winston said Payne will still visit Michigan State, Arizona, West Virginia and Kansas and said that I would have to ask Payne who was his favorite but that he thought Kentucky was “right up there at the top”. I got the impression that the visit went well and the Cats made quite an impression, although Payne is still a long way from making his final choice.
(2): The other major piece of news doesnt look good for the Cats. Justin Young (who at one time worked for Rivals.com but I am now told does not) is reporting that he hears that Kyrie Irving will commit to Duke within 24 hours. Irving’s visit by all accounts went tremendously and unlike Patrick Patterson, he must have been feeling those guys. Duke fans held up signs and he liked the atmosphere of the campus. Kentucky had hoped to get Irving on campus for Midnight Madness and if Young’s news is correct then that likely will not take place. If the commitment doesnt happen in 24 hours, then UK may still be in play, but things do look good for the Blue Devils right now.
(3): If Irving is off the board, then we will learn a lot more about Josh Selby, who narrowed his list to six schools. Selby told Evan Daniels that his final six would be Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana and Baylor. The big surprise there is that Selby doesnt list UCONN, a school some had thought was his favorite. This may or may not be a good sign however for the Cats, as the Huskies are also a potential top choice for Brandon Knight with UK, and one wonders if that factored in to any movement on the Selby recruitment. Selby of course was originally a commitment of Tennessee and it hasnt been clear at all times how much interest UK was truly putting in him during the summer. But the UK interest has stepped up in recent weeks and one wonders if the Irving decision could end up with a Selby trip to Midnight Madness. We shall see and my guess is that Dustin will let us know.
(4): Finally, there is some injury news on the football side of the athletics department. Paul Warford, Justin Jeffries, Sam Maxwell and Moncell Allen are all banged up after the game on Saturday and likely to miss some practice time this week. Rich Brooks listed all as questionable for the Alabama game on Saturday, which would be quite an injury bug to hit the team if all did not play. It is likely the case that most, if not all, will hit the field but the injury situation over the next three weeks is beyond critical. After playing the Gators, Kentucky gets three more hard hitting teams and all are back to back with no break. It is important for UK to remain as healthy as possible during this time and try to get through these games to the ones where wins are crucial.
We will have more recruiting all day, our first look at Alabama, the eliminated contestant in the Blogger contest and some interesting tidbits from Saturday night in the press box. Stay tuned….